© NVAFriends


hit counter

Military Topsites List
free counters

Veterans

Eldridge, Bill

Town : Isle of Wight
Regiment : Royal Army Medical Corps
Landed in Normandy : June 6 1944

The late Bill Eldridge was with a Royal Army Medical Corps light field ambulance unit attached to the Guards Armoured Division in the spring of 1944. They embarked in a landing craft at Newhaven on June 5th, eve of D-Day. "The excitement when we set sail in the calm of the harbour soon disappeared as we entered the Channel for the start of a horrendous night. Everyone was horribly seasick," he recalled. "Come daylight, we were close to France and the start of a memorable day. As we passed through the naval heavies bombarding the coast, and craft firing salvoes of rockets, the noise was deafening" "Then the first sight of the beach and the mayhem we were about to enter. Closer, and we were among the wreckage, sea discoloured with blood. and all hell let loose. with the beach still under shell and mortar fire" "Fifty yards from the beach we were hit. We sustained our first casualties .. four dead, others injured. One of the two ladders in the bows (our exit) was blown off" "Sword Beach was a shambles and we needed no inducement from the beach master to 'Get the hell off" "Leaving a section of the unit to attend to the beach casualties, we moved on to the orchard that was to he our base half way between Herrnanville and Lion Sur Mer" "We passed South Lancs infantry, still attacking Herrnanville but pinned down by sniper fire, and immediately started to receive a flood of casualties" "Until our tents and operating theatre arrived it was first aid, getting the more seriously injured to the beach for transport back to the UK," After leaving the army in 1946, Bill, an Islander by birth, returned to continue his training in psychiatric nursing. He retired from Whitecroft as senior nursing officer in 1983.

 

THEY WERE THERE Members of the Isle of Wight Branch (closed) As the Allied nations of the Second World War commemorated the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Normandy campaign that led to the liberation of Nazi- occupied Europe, Isle of Wight veterans of that operation looked back with pride and some sadness on those momentous events of 1944. Some of the veterans were Island born; some made their homes on the Island later in life; some are no longer with us. Over the years a good number of them have kept in touch through the Isle of Wight branch of the Normandy Veterans Association. Here are some of their recollections. (Compiled by Veteran Ian Gordon from personal interviews carried out for the Isle of Wight N.V.A. branch newsletter)
Back to top